Thursday, January 12, 2006

Constitution & Conscience

KJ John’s column in Malaysiakini (The Constitution is our Judicial Cornerstone, Jan 9) responding to the Moorthy constitutional wrangle is noteworthy for two reasons. First, he articulated a strong defense for the supremacy of the constitution, and argued that it is rightfully a cornerstone for a just and equitable nation. Second, he inferred that where the national constitution defines and protects the basic rights of all peoples who call Malaysia their home, naturally they will reciprocate in loyalty to and love for the country. He wrote:
"As a Malaysian Christian in this nation and as a father, I want to train and teach my children to love this country that we call our own, but I can only do so with a clear conscience if their constitutional basic rights are protected and preserved under our principles of good governance.

If governance becomes weak and inefficient or over-zealous because of the noisy few or poor enforcement, I fear to teach my children "blind obedience and loyalty" when the whole world is their backyard and they sincerely have other options."
I cannot agree more with his sentiments, although I do wonder (as regards supremacy of the constitution), if the horse has long bolted out of the stable. But I have a couple of questions: Is "blind obedience and loyalty" necessarily an expression of nationalism and/or patriotism? Is it so unconscionable to teach our children to love a country even if that country does not 'love' you at its most basic constitutional level?

I ask these questions as a Malaysian Christian, a resident 'alien', and servant of a higher calling. As one who wrestles daily with being salt and light in a place that God has presumably ordained for me, should I even think of "other options"?

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